He’s been a mainstay in Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad – but Motherwell captain Declan Gallagher knows he needs to play in order to feature at Euro 2020 as he hails QPR loanee Liam Kelly.
The centre-back played 120 minutes on Friday as the Fir Park club narrowly moved past Greenock Morton into the Scottish Cup quarter-finals, where they will face Hibs. A penalty save from QPR loanee Kelly and Stephen O’Donnell’s spot-kick secured a 5-3 shootout win after the 1-1 draw with the Scottish Championship side.
Gallagher is out of contract in the summer but talks on his future are on the backburner for the Motherwell captain, who’s targeting Euro 2020: “I am hoping to keep playing games here for the rest of the season. I spoke to Steve Clarke at the last camp and he told me I had to be playing if I wanted to be involved in the summer.
“That’s why I didn’t get any minutes in the last few games with Scotland. All I am focusing on is Motherwell right now and the stuff about my future, whether it is here, or elsewhere, is for another day. All I am thinking about is playing here and getting as many minutes as I can because I want to make the squad for the Euros.”
“The manager here likes to take it one game at a time and our next game is a big one against Hamilton on Wednesday. So that’s the one we will focus on. A good cup run can give you a boost – you want to go as far as you can in any cup competition you play in.
“The fans are desperate to see us reaching finals like they did before. Getting through to the quarter-finals is a big bonus for us but we have to forget that now and worry about the league.”
One player who is looking to join Gallagher at Euro 2020 is Kelly, who has shone in the goalkeeper department for Motherwell since arriving from QPR. Gallagher believes he is ‘international-class.’
He said: “The main thing is to obviously get through to the next round and we have managed to do that. We have to take the positives and that’s us gone three games unbeaten now, so we can be happy about that. We did make hard work of it by not taking our chances in the first place and the game going into extra time.
“Then to lose that last-second goal in extra time wasn’t good. We didn’t actually practice penalties in training or anything because the boys know what you have to do with them anyway. You have to make up your mind early and go that way and whatever happens, happens. It is a lottery at the end of the day when it comes down to penalties.
“Liam has saved two penalties in two games and that is unbelievable from him and great for us. Liam is an experienced goalkeeper and he is an international-class keeper. He has been in and around the Scotland squad before and you can see his qualities again against Morton on Friday night.”
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